In a previous post we covered how inbound marketing has evolved the sales process. Now we have some selling tips to help you sell to and close those high quality inbound leads once they start coming in.
To succeed in sales, you must understand these four fundamental truths that inbound marketing brings to the sales process:
- The sales process no longer starts with you, it starts with your website.
- Focus on helping your customer, not “selling” to them.
- Your marketing team is not the enemy. They want to bring you quality leads - collaborate with them!
- Don’t pester your leads, support them.
The sales process no longer starts with you, it starts with your website.
The sales team is no longer the key to a customer getting information about a product or service. There are hundreds of articles online about different products and services, giving the customer more information than ever before. When these customers come to the point of making a decision between different brands, prices, and quality, that’s when as a salesperson, you have the opportunity to position yourself as trusted advisor and provide customers additional information and guidance to help them make informed decisions.
You do this by focusing on the specific needs and issues of your customer and selling to those. In any sales call you make, your customer should be talking more than you are. Remember, an inbound lead has already been to your website and already knows a little bit about your company and product or service. You don’t have to go into your 15 minute pitch about what your company offers, they already know this! It’s the reason they’re calling you. Your job now is to understand their pain points and explain how your product or service is going to help solve their problems.
Focus on helping your customer, not “selling” to them.
I recently asked two salespeople the same question: “What’s your job as a salesperson?”
The person with two years of experience told me: “To give my customers the information they need to make an informed buying decision”
The person with 30 years of experience told me: “To sell, damnit!!”
Who’s right? Believe it or not, that person with only two years of experience has it figured out! Obviously, as a salesperson the end goal is to make your quotas and you have to sell for that to happen. But selling becomes easier when customers ultimately sell themselves on the product. I’ve been on sales calls before where in the middle of the call the person stopped talking and said “So I really am just interested in exactly what you can do for me, and how much all of this is going to cost.” Did I stop right there and answer them? Absolutely not! I didn’t have half of the information I needed to fully understand their needs, so I honestly couldn’t answer the question, “What can you do for me?” I responded that we would get there, but in order to answer honestly, I needed more information. Guess what? They were okay with that! When I was done asking my questions, I knew exactly what this person needed for their company to succeed. On a follow up phone call he told me the way I gathered information and answered his questions was unmatched by any other company they spoke to, and because of that they chose to work with us.
Your marketing team is not the enemy - collaborate with them!
Inbound leads come from inbound marketing. If you’re getting inbound leads it’s because your marketing team has done a great job. If you are getting poor quality leads, or that leads are low, let them know! Don’t be afraid to tell your marketing team when things are going well, or especially when they are not. Hiding information doesn’t help anything. If you’re a salesperson who is concerned about poor-quality inbound leads, you have to communicate that. “Hey, all the leads we get from xyz source are not working.” This kind of firsthand information can help the marketing team adjust their strategy to get you better quality leads. Sales and marketing are working toward the same end goal, and need to respect each other’s sides and work to help one another. Working together is a sure way to increase bottom-line results for the company. Check out these 20 stats that prove the power or sales and marketing working together.
Don’t pester your leads, support them.
This is one I really can’t stress enough. Our company recently bought a new commercial printer and I was tasked with finding a printer company to go with. I did some research online so I had an idea of pricing, and then I filled out a form to have printer companies around me contact me.
The first person who contacted me, we’ll call him Harry, called and asked if it was a good time to talk. I said yes, and he started asking me questions about my company, my role within the company, what we expect to use the printer for, and other specifics. It was about a 15 to 20 minute phone call and we scheduled a demo for me to visit his location that week.
The second person who contacted me, we’ll call him Jeremy, called and set up an in-person meeting for later that week.
So later that week I met with Harry and he gave me a demo of the machine he recommended based on the information he gathered in our phone call. He provided prices and answered all of my questions. I told him we were researching one other company, which he understood.
Later that day, Jeremy came in to Synectics Media’s office to meet with me. He asked me for all of the same information that Harry had asked me for over the phone. I explained what we were looking for and at the end of our conversation I asked for pricing. Jeremy couldn’t give me any pricing information at that point; he wanted to come back in the next day with prices. I wasn’t going to be available, so I asked him to drop it off in our office. Then, before Jeremy left the meeting, he started talking to me about digital interactive displays for conference rooms. I contacted him for a printer, he hadn’t even given me the information I needed yet, and he was already trying to upsell me on something I never said I had a need for.
After dropping off pricing information the next day, Jeremy called and emailed me to follow up. I was very busy that day, so I couldn’t get back to him right away. When I got into the office that next day I had another email and another voicemail from Jeremy. I emailed him back letting him know I got everything and would be reviewing it. I kid you not, he called me again that day to talk. I explained I had to meet with my bosses for a buying decision.
Fast forward about a week later, I emailed Harry once or twice to ask some questions. We ended up talking on the phone once more (after he emailed first asking if he could call, and we set up a time to talk.) Compare that to Jeremy, who emailed and called me every single day, and if he left a voicemail in the morning, he would call again later in the day. Every day. Throughout the entire sales process, I felt that Harry respected both my time and the fact that printer selection was one of several things I was focused on far more than Jeremy did.
In the end, both companies offered almost identical contracts and services, but who did we choose? Harry’s company of course. His sales process was helpful, not annoying.
So how does this story help you sell more effectively to your inbound leads? It illustrates how pestering your leads with too much follow-up can be detrimental. If I was assigned this task 15 years ago I would not have been able to do as much of my own research online, and honestly, I most likely would have bought from Jeremy because he would have been my only source of information. Even if I didn’t like him, I almost wouldn’t have had a choice because it would have been hard for me to get the level of detailed information I needed without a salesperson calling me every single day.
So as the way our customers gather information changes, so must the salesperson’s approach. Jeremy had 19 years of experience in the industry and Harry had about 5 or 6 years of experience. It’s very important for those who have been in sales for a long time to adapt to how customers want to buy today. Be patient with your customers, and don’t try to bully them into sales; otherwise you’re going to be like Jeremy and drive me away.
Do you have a long sales career? What have you noticed about how your sales process has needed to evolve over the years? What kind of relationship exists between your sales and marketing teams? We love learning from you, so share your experiences in the comments!